Lesson 1 of 7 - free your true Self to guide you

Mental Illness often
Begins in Childhood

Half of all cases start by age 14,
researchers say

the Associated Press
 on MSNBC Web News, 6/6/05


The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/news/MI_by_14.htm

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        This recent research finding supports several main premises in this nonprofit educational Web site. See my comments after the article. The links and hilights below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW

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CHICAGO - Most mental illness hits early in life, with half of all cases starting by age 14, a survey of nearly 10,000 U.S. adults found.

Many cases begin with mild, easy-to-dismiss symptoms such as low-level anxiousness or persistent shyness, but left untreated, they can quickly escalate into severe depression, disabling phobias or clinical anxiety, said Ronald Kessler, a Harvard Medical School researcher involved in the study.

That so many cases begin in people so young -  three-fourths start by age 24 - “is just staggering,” and underscores the need for better efforts at early detection and treatment, Kessler said.

“These disorders have really become the chronic disorders of young people in America,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the research.

The findings, published in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, were based on face-to-face interviews conducted with people ages 18 and older in 2001 through 2003.

The new figures also show that the prevalence of mental illness nationwide has stabilized for the first time since the end of World War II, Kessler said.

About 46 percent of people surveyed said they had experienced a mental illness at some point in their lives, and about 26 percent said they had within the previous year - rates similar to those reported in a 1994 version of the survey. Before the earlier survey, rates had steadily increased since the mid-1940s, Kessler said.

The previous increase was probably at least partly due to better detection and awareness, Kessler said.

The overall prevalence rate is probably an underestimate because the study included only English-speaking adults and excluded rarer illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism.

Most ailments were mild. Only about one-fifth of those who reported any mental disorder within the past year had a serious illness, meaning their daily activities were severely affected.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


        Note that...

  • this article doesn't define "mental illness (or health)". so its conclusions are very general and open to interpretation;

  • the findings of this study are based on self-reports, which are probably  distorted - in favor of underreporting the frequency and personal and family impacts of psychological problems.

  • the report ignores the nature-nurture controversy over the possible causes of "mental illness." It offers an opinion on the scope and origin of the problem (national mental illness), but stops short of diagnosing or proposing how to lower it. The researchers vaguely promote "early detection and treatment," rather than prevention.

  • the language of the report reinforces the outdated psychoanalytic "medical model" of mental illness. This model proposes that psychological disturbances are a personal "sickness" rather than a spiritual/psychological condition and a major symptom of family dysfunction. Most people resist feeling "I'm sick" or "I have a disease," which inhibits accurate self-awareness, discovery, and psycho-spiritual recovery.

        This research summary indirectly supports several core premises in this nonprofit Web site: i.e. that

  • non-organic "mental illness" is a symptom of inherited [psychological wounds + unawareness] which...

  • causes significant parental abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma") in a child's early years, which...

  • wounds the kids causing symptoms of "mental illness."  .

      Premise: our core "mental illness" problem is U.S. voters' unawareness of this toxic inheritance cycle, and their passive acceptance of irresponsible child conception and inadequate or harmful parenting.

        Lesson 1 in this nonprofit self-improvement Web site and its related guidebook focus on (a) assessing for psychological wounds, (b) intentionally reducing them over time, and (c) protecting vulnerable young kids from inheriting them. For three practical options you can tailor to break the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle in your family, region, and nation, see this

 This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful 

  For related research summaries, see this.

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Updated April 11, 2015